ShimabukuInterview Hans-Ulrich Obrist

Okinawa, October 17th, 2017
Interview Hans-Ulrich Obrist


left: Gift: Exhibition for the Monkeys, 1992
right: Leaves Swim, 2011


HUO I am very excited about this interview and I wanted to ask you to tell us about your beginnings, how all started…
SH I was interested in literature, especially poems since I was a junior high school student. Around maybe 14-17 years old, I was reading a lot of books and poems when I started noticing the limits of Japanese language. You know, when communicating with people on this planet, Japanese happens to be quite limiting which led me to explore visual language. That is how I started.
HUO Who were your heroes?
SH Well, people like Jean Cocteau.
HUO What interested you about Jean Cocteau?
SH He was a sort of a multimedia artist, you know, working with writing, cinema, images… I saw him as very free at that time.
HUO Any inspirations from Japan?
SH Yes of course, people like author Motojirō Kajii. He is famous for a short novel called Remon (Lemon). The simple story shows the author vision of lemon as a small bomb and the importance of taking roots in the city. Japanese zen monks also inspire me a lot. To me they are very close to conceptual artist like Duchamp.


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